Edinburgh to play a major role in national PhD training programme to tackle antimicrobial resistance

The Medical Research Foundation (MRF), the charitable foundation of the Medical Research Council, has invested £2.85M in delivering the UK’s first nationwide PhD training programme to focus on the global threat of antimicrobial resistance.

The PhD training programme leadership comprises 16 academics from 13 universities and research institutes. Researchers at the University of Edinburgh will make a significant contribution to delivery of the new programme, bringing together PhD students from all academic disciplines to explore new ways of tackling the threat to human life posed by Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR).  The University of Edinburgh is known for its pioneering multidisciplinary research into immune responses to infection, microbial evolution, molecular epidemiology of AMR and diagnostics in both man and animals. 

The MRF’s Programme will provide 4-year PhD funding for 18 students in the first cohort, with the studentships being distributed across a wide range of participating UK universities. In addition, training courses and cohort building/networking events will be funded to benefit up to 200 PhD students studying AMR-related problems from across the UK.

Prof. David Dockrell, Chair of Infection Medicine at the University of Edinburgh, Principal Investigator for the SHIELD consortium developing host based approaches to combat antimicrobial resistance and member of the MRF senior management group, said:

Antimicrobial resistance represents one of the most significant challenges to human health globally. It has arisen because of our heavy reliance on antimicrobials or antibiotics in human and animal health in the past. We urgently need to develop new approaches to the diagnosis and treatment of infections caused by these micro-organisms. We need a better understanding of how antimicrobial or antibiotic use promotes resistance in animals and in man, how these infections are spread from the environment or animals to man and how they are spread between human populations.

We need to think carefully about innovative ways to measure antimicrobial resistance and the need for specific antimicrobial therapy so that we can preserve existing antimicrobials in human and veterinary medicine. We need to utilize existing agents in ways which will limit development of resistance. These include finding alternatives such as boosting the body’s own defenses against infection through immunization and the use of other strategies that enhance the body’s natural immune defences against infection. We also need to identify new compounds that act as antimicrobials either through repurposing agents that are currently  used for other indications in medicine or through discovery of new compounds.

Overall this is a challenge which is going to require many different groups working together and investigators in Edinburgh look forward to working with our colleagues across other Universities in the UK to developing responses to this challenge. The programme will train the next generation of researchers to develop the multidisciplinary research skills that are required to tackle this major health problem.”

The Programme has been developed in response to a gap in funding for PhD studentships in this field of research – currently there are few emerging researchers trained in the multidisciplinary approach required to tackle the AMR problem. The Programme is designed to help build a strong, active network of new researchers to approach this global challenge in innovative ways.

The MRF’s Chair, Professor Nicholas Lemoine, said:

The Medical Research Foundation is delighted to be funding the UK’s only national PhD Training Programme in antimicrobial resistance research.  We believe this will help to strengthen the UK’s research capacity to respond to the global health challenge of antimicrobial resistance, including antibiotic resistance and drug-resistant infections.”

The MRF is continuing to seek funds from its supporters and other sources to fund two further cohorts of PhD students in antimicrobial resistance in the future.

Training Programme Lead:

  • Dr Matthew Avison, University of Bristol

Training Programme Leadership Team:

  • Professor Christopher Dowson, University of Warwick
  • Dr Mark Holmes, University of Cambridge
  • Professor David Dockrell, University of Edinburgh
  • Professor Christoph Wälti, University of Leeds
  • Dr Andrew Bailey, University of Bristol
  • Professor Derrick Crook, University of Oxford
  • Dr Dov Stekel, University of Nottingham
  • Dr Andrew Singer, NERC Centre for Ecology and Hydrology
  • Dr Clare Chandler, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine
  • Prof Henry Buller, University of Exeter
  • Dr Charis Marwick, University of Dundee
  • Prof Andrew Hayward, University College London
  • Prof Alison Holmes, Imperial College London
  • Prof Sarah Walker, Nuffield Department of Medicine, Oxford
  • Prof Alison Grant, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

All the universities mentioned above will host MRF PhD Students as part of the MRF National PhD Training Programme in AMR.

Further information about AMR research in Edinburgh

Antimicrobial Resistance research in Edinburgh

For more information about the Training Programme in AMR please contact:

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